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Incontinence takes mental toll on women

Middle aged women are more inclined to suffer depression from incontinence, said University of Adelaide research.

In a study of the experiences of women with urinary incontinence, researcher Jodie Avery found that women with incontinence, aged 43-65, were more likely to be depressed than older women aged 65-89.

“Women with both incontinence and depression scored lower in all areas of quality of life because of the impact of incontinence on their physical wellbeing,” said Avery, a PhD student and senior research associate at the University's School of Population Health and School of Medicine.

Speaking in the lead up to World Continence Week on 24–30 June, Avery said the younger women’s self-esteem is often hit hard by urinary incontinence, while older women tend to be more resilient.

“Key issues for younger women affected by incontinence are family, sexual relationships and sport and leisure activities,” she said.

Urinary incontinence affects approximately 35 per cent of the female population. The main cause in women is pregnancy, with the number of children they have increasing their chances of becoming incontinent.

“Sufferers of incontinence are often reluctant to get help, but attitudes are slowly changing. It is very important for them to seek advice about their condition. In some cases, urinary incontinence can be curable with an operation, and this is quite literally a life-changing operation for many women.”

It is hoped the research will help raise awareness in the community about both the mental and physical issues associated with incontinence, and promote healthy discussions with health professionals.

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